In word deafness, also known as pure word deafness or auditory verbal agnosia, the ability to understand spoken language is lost or severely impaired. The problem, which in general is rarely seen, is likely due to an inability to distinguish phonemes (i.e., the smallest unit of sound that is significant to a language). The reason that the term pure is often attached to word deafness is because the comprehension of verbal information is selectively impaired. It means that only the comprehension of speech sounds is impaired as opposed to other types of auditory agnosia, where comprehension or recognition of nonspeech sounds (e.g., environmental sounds or music) is impaired. Research has shown that those who experience word deafness find it more difficult to discriminate consonants than ...

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